Thursday, October 13, 2022

Things to Do: The New Jersey Botanical Gardens is A Hidden Gem Less than an Hour from New York City - See the Splendor Every Season

By Bella Gusmano

I took a trip to the New Jersey Botanical Gardens located at 2 Morris Road in Ringwood State Park to see one of the hidden gems of Northern New Jersey. I brought my Dad along with me, who loved to visit the gardens when he was younger with his mother. Upon entering the park, I noticed people enjoying lounging under the Crapapple Vista and others wandering through the Annual and Perennial Gardens. 

The NJBG offers guided tours on Sunday afternoons at 2 pm (while I was there), but I opted for a self-guided tour through the grounds. With the weather beginning to turn, it was a great opportunity to see the vibrant colors on a crisp fall day. (Note: The Gardens are open all four seasons.)

As we walked through the gardens, my dad recounted fond memories of him and his mother wandering through the gardens and noted how he remembered the trees being planted in the Crabapple Allee, which now stood tall among the rest of the gardens. Walking through the garden gave me a sense of nostalgia; although I have never been before, my grandmother was an artist, and I could tell that the beautiful flowers served as inspiration for many of her pieces. 

A day at the garden can be spent wandering around the pump house and the carriage house, which are located next to the annual and perennial gardens. Guests can also venture out to the hiking trails, where they can enjoy the hosta garden, wildflower garden, swan pond, and more.

My dad and I spent an hour and a half in the gardens where we mostly viewed the annual and perennial gardens. He loves photography but isn’t keen on walking very far- so this was the perfect area to see plenty of beautiful flowers while not venturing too far into the gardens. The hiking trails that lead deeper into the gardens are a bit more difficult to locate without a map, so I recommend familiarizing yourself with the different gardens before venturing out on your own. 

In addition to visiting the garden, I stopped by Ringwood Manor, which was a short drive on the same road as the NJBG. Both the manor and the garden were beautiful grounds rich in history. I recommend checking out both of the sites as they are so close to one another, and it is a great opportunity to learn about the history of the land. 

Whether you are with a group, want to spend some quality time with a loved one, or looking for a relaxing solo trip, I would suggest a trip to New Jersey Botanical Gardens. They also have many seasonal events so be sure to check out their website to help you plan your trip.

One garden that I was not able to see that I would like to on my next trip is the Azalea garden, which is a reflective pool with beautiful azaleas on the outside. I look forward to returning to the gardens with friends to take on the hiking trails and spend more time on the grounds. During my visit, I did not see many people who worked in the gardens, so I think it would be worthwhile to attend a guided tour to really learn about the grounds. All in all, whether you are looking to get some exercise in and hike the trails, or just relax among the beautiful gardens, NJBG has what you are looking for. 

Photo credits: James Gusmano